Could One of These Four Screenplays Win the Oscar?

Could One of These Four Screenplays Win the Oscar?

The booms echo. Closer now.

SHIVERING SOLDIER We’re turning around, now!

The Shivering Soldier steps towards Mr. Dawson, screaming at the top of his lungs —


Peter, hearing this, makes his way back from the bow. The Shivering Soldier grabs the wheel. George grabs his shoulder —

The Shivering Soldier smashes his elbow into George’s face, sending him flying backwards down the companionway —

Peter pulls the Shivering Soldier away from the wheel.

PETER Calm it down, mate.

The Shivering Soldier looks at him, shocked. Confused.


From left, Kumail Nanjiani, Anupam Kher, and Zenobia Shroff in “The Big Sick.”

Sarah Shatz/Lionsgate

The Big Sick

Written by Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani

Kumail (Kumail Nanjiani) is a struggling stand-up comedian in Chicago who has hidden his interest in a non-Muslim woman from his Pakistani immigrant parents, Sharmeen and Azmat (Zenobia Shroff and Anupam Kher). They expect him to enter into an arranged marriage, and after Kumail rejects their latest prospect, they go to his apartment to confront him.

SHARMEEN Kumi, if you don’t want to be a lawyer, fine. If you want to do the stand-up comedy and embarrass us as a family, fine. There is only one thing that we have ever asked from you: that you be a good Muslim and that you marry a Pakistani girl. That is it, one thing!

KUMAIL Can I ask you something that has never made sense to me? Why did you bring me here if you wanted me to not have an American life? We come here but we pretend like we’re still back there? That’s so stupid!

AZMAT Don’t you talk to your mother like that!

KUMAIL You don’t care what I think. You just want me to follow the rules. But the rules don’t make sense to me. I don’t pray. I don’t. I haven’t prayed in years. I just go down there and I play video games.

AZMAT You don’t believe in Allah?

KUMAIL I don’t know what I believe, Dad! I don’t know. And I can’t marry someone you find for me.


Richard Jenkins, left, and Sally Hawkins in “The Shape of Water.”

Kerry Hayes/Fox Searchlight Pictures

The Shape of Water

Written by Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor

In a government laboratory in the middle of the Cold War, a mute janitor, Elisa (Sally Hawkins), has made a connection with the strange Amphibian Man being held captive there. When she learns of plans to kill the creature, she pleads, via sign language, with her neighbor Giles (Richard Jenkins) to help free him. But Giles refuses.

She runs in front of him. Stops him: Signs. Giles translates.

GILES Alone? What if he’s alone? What about it? We’re all alone! If I — If I took you to a Chinese restaurant — would you save every crab?


“It’s the loneliest thing you’ve ever seen …” Well there you go, you just said it. It’s a thing — a freak —

She signs.

GILES I understand what you’re —

Pushes him. Signs.

GILES O.K., O.K., calm down — I’ll repeat it — to you.

(repeating out loud)

“And what am I? I move my mouth — like him — and I make no sound — like him. What does that make me?”


“All that I am, all that I’ve been ever — brought me here — to him.”


“Him??” What are you talking about? That thing? It’s a “him” now?

She pushes him and re-signs, violently: “HIM”

GILES Hey! Watch it!


“The way he looks at me. He doesn’t know what I lack … Or how I am incomplete. He just sees me for what I am. As I am. And he is happy to see me, every time. Every day.”


“And I can either save him now or let him die. Never see his eyes, see me again. I will not let that go.”


Woody Harrelson, left, and Frances McDormand in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.”

Fox Searchlight Pictures

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Written ny Martin McDonagh

Enraged by the lack of progress in the investigation of her daughter’s murder, Mildred Hayes (played by Frances McDormand) rents three billboards demanding action from the Ebbing police chief, Willoughby (Woody Harrelson).

EXT. Mildred’s garden — day

Mildred sitting on a creaky swing set, Willoughby with hat in hand.

WILLOUGHBY I’d do anything to catch the guy who did it, Mrs. Hayes. But when the DNA don’t match no-one who’s ever been arrested, and when the DNA don’t match any other crime nationwide, and when there wasn’t a single eyewitness from the time she left your house to the time we found her, well, right now there ain’t too much more that we can do, except …

MILDRED Could pull blood from every man and boy in this town, over the age of 8.

WILLOUGHBY There’s civil rights laws prevents that, Mrs. Hayes, and what if he was just passing thru town …

MILDRED Pull blood from ever’ man in the country, then.

WILLOUGHBY And what if he was just passing thru the country?

MILDRED If it was me, I’d start up a database, every male baby what’s born, stick ’em on it, cross-reference it, and as soon as they done something wrong, make a hundred percent certain it was a correct match, then kill ’em.

WILLOUGHBY Yeah, well, there’s definitely civil rights laws prevents that.

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